Michael Jordan is almost unanimously considered the greatest player of all time. He dominated the NBA from the jump and finished with a perfect 6-0 record in the Finals, something that isn’t likely to be done again given the nature and dynamic of the modern NBA.
Michael Jordan got the job done on both ends of the floor and led the Chicago Bulls to 8 rings in 6 seasons with two three-peats. And if we take away that year-and-a-half when he was retired for the first time, he won 6 straight NBA Championships.
Jordan was a 14-time All-Star, 10-time Scoring champion (NBA record), 3-time steals leader, 11-time All-NBA, All-Rookie, Rookie of the Year, 3-time All-Star MVP, 9-time All-Defensive, Defensive Player of the Year, 5-time MVP, and 6-time Finals MVP.
However, even His Airness struggled to win his first NBA Championship. In fact, his doubters claimed that he was just a regular-season player and that he was never going to be able to lead the Bulls to a ring – Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.
But, once Jordan was finally able to take a taste of the glory, he never looked back. Today, we’re going to break down his first and last ring:
Michael Jordan’s First Ring
The Chicago Bulls had lost three straight times to Isiah Thomas and the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons in the playoffs. They were just too big, too strong, and too physical to overcome. Everytime Jordan drove or got the ball, he was in for a beating.
Jordan and the Bulls were pretty close to taking them down in the 1989-90 Eastern Conference Finals. They took them to 7 games despite the ‘Jordan Rules’ but once again fell short of their goal. That’s when things took a major turn for the franchise.
Michael and the rest of the Bulls hit the gym hard that summer. They bulked up and were on a mission next season. Then, they faced the Pistons in the ECF again but this time, they swept them in dominant fashion to clinch their first-ever trip to the NBA Finals.
There, Jordan averaged 31.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 11.4 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 2.8 steals per game on 55.5% from the floor. Moreover, he got the job done in just 5 games vs. Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers at the ripe age of 27. It would be the first of three straight rings for the GOAT.
Michael Jordan’s Last Ring
Following Chicago’s third straight title, Jordan shockingly announced his retirement. The world was shaken beyond disbelief when the NBA lost their best player and while the Bulls were able to compete, it just wasn’t the same without their leader.
Fast-forward to the final third of the 1994-95 season and Jordan announced that he was coming back but, understandibly, he needed to get his legs back under him and the team was already used to playing without their top bucker-getter.
Jordan picked up things where he left them next season and led the Chicago Bulls to back-to-back rings. Then, in 1997-98, it was the time for their Last Dance, as Jerry Krause had announced that Phil Jackson wasn’t going to come back as the Bulls’ coach.
Chicago got off to a slow start of the season with Scottie Pippen in the sidelines with an injury – and later a contract dispute. Everybody thought the Bulls were done and wanted a shot at Jordan’s crown but he wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The Bulls went back to their dominant ways and overcame the up-and-coming Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals again.
Jordan took his game up a notch with averages of 33.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.8 steals per game on 42.7% from the floor, and only needed 6 games to take the Utah Jazz down for the second straight time at 34 years old. That’s just legendary stuff from the greatest player to ever do it.